Lula's Iranian diplomatic coup may be linked to shot at UN post

While Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Monday celebrated what was being hailed as a diplomatic coup in convincing Iran to swap its nuclear fuel with Turkey, many analysts are wondering whether his mediation was a rehearsal for a bigger role — at the United Nations.

Lula da Silva traveled to Teheran with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convince Iran to send part of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Turkey for safekeeping in exchange for enough higher-enriched uranium for a research reactor to produce medical isotopes.

It was an attempt by Lula da Silva to head off a new wave of UN sanctions against Iran. But the United States, China and Russia announced on Tuesday they agreed to push for new sanctions.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian leader's intervention has givenrise to speculation that Lula da Silva wants to prove he is a capable negotiator, who deserves a shot at the UN secretary general's spot.

"You ought to remember that Lula is about to finish up his presidency this year," said Jaime Daremblum at the Washington DC-based Hudson Institute.

"And Lula has ambition, first of all for Brazil [to have] a greater role in the UN, even a permanent seat [on] the Security Council."

Writing in Saturday’s São Paulo daily Folha de São Paulo, Clovis Rossi also said that Brazil’s mediation with Iran could be linked to the Security-Council bid.

Concerns exist

Many had questioned whether Iran actually conned the leaders of both these countries and would continue to develop nuclear weapons. Teheran has said that it will not halt its uranium enrichment nor enter into substantive negotiations on its program.

Matias Spektor of Rio de Janeiro's Getulio Vargas Foundation disagrees about Lula’s ambitions.

"There is no explicit or implicit interest on the part of President Lula to become secretarygeneral of the United Nations, mostly because that position is not available," Spektor said.

"And it will not be available in the near future. When the current Secretary General Ban Kimoon leaves, the position will not go to a Latin American, so to believe that Lula is being driven by that I think is utterly misplaced."

A UN secretary general is elected to a five-year term which is renewable indefinitely.

Lula hasn't commented on the speculation that he will seek a post at the UN. By law, he cannot run for re-election in Brazil.

(Published by El País – May 19, 2010)

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